By John Hendrixon (Center Square)
“From this day forward, a new vision will rule our land. From this day forward, it is only going to be America first. America first. Every decision on trade, taxes, immigration, foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families. A large part of President Trump’s America First agenda was directed toward trade policy and the need to strengthen and rebuild production. In October, the nation celebrates Production Day, and the nation needs to focus on the importance of production (and mining) not only for a strong economy and national security, but also for a healthy and stable middle class. .
President Trump has stunned both political parties with his America First Approach to his political policy. He openly embraced the use of tariffs, encouraged “American buy” and often commented that the United States was not only nearing the end of trade agreements, but was often taking advantage of it. The president has often mentioned how other nations put their national interests first, while the United States is more committed to following the ideals of free trade and globalism.
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President Trump renegotiated the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which led to the United States, Mexico and Canada Agreement (USMCA), and he imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum. President Trump’s steel tariffs helped save and revive the steel industry. In addition, he was the first president to fully embrace China.
Production is always important for the economy of the country. It was the “arsenal of democracy” that led to the defeat of Nazi Germany and the Japanese Empire during World War II. It was America’s manufacturing power that helped create the “American Century” in the 20th century. Similarly, it was manufacturing that helped create a strong middle class. However, this began to change after World War II as the country adopted globalization and free-trade agreements. Globalization became a religion for both political parties as many were revered in the golden transformation of free markets and free trade.
As a result of globalization and numerous free-trade agreements as well as giving China the status of the most favored nation, U.S. production, especially industry, began to see a sharp decline in the Midwest. Ambassador Robert Lightheiser, who acts as President Trump’s U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), argues that “trade agreements, such as NAFTA, during this period, reduce tariffs on imports from low-wage countries, making production employment worse.”
It affected communities across the country, especially in the Midwest. Ambassador Lightheiser noted that the United States has lost 5 million manufacturing jobs. “As a result, cities have collapsed and families have broken up, contributing to an opioid epidemic and despair,” writes Ambassador Lighthizer. “Blue-collar” workers become “forgotten people” and often their political elites say they should either leave their community and relocate or learn other skills such as computer programming. Since 2001, the nation has “grown to more than 12 12 trillion in global deficits.”
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This was the consequence of “creative destruction”. Consumers were able to get cheaper products, but the loss of manufacturing work led to lower wages, greater reliance on social welfare programs, and economic collapse in many communities. It is estimated that between 2001 and 2018, 3.7 million Americans lost their jobs in China.
“For decades, we have enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry … one by one, factories closed and moved to our shores, not even thinking about leaving behind millions and millions of American workers. Our middle-class wealth is their home. Were snatched from and then redistributed around the world, “President Trump noted.
The Kovid-1 pandemic epidemic shows how dependent the nation has become, not only on China, but also on other countries such as medicine and medical supplies. The epidemic has also caused many supply-discipline problems. The United States has become dangerously dependent on foreign countries, even potentially hostile countries like China, for essential commodities. It even includes materials related to our national security and defense. Currently, there is a shortage of semiconductors.
“Why is semiconductor so important? Because computer chips are not only the ‘brains’ of computers, cars and medical devices, but also the weapons systems that support the US military. Relying so heavily on imported computer chips puts US national security at risk for global market aspirations, ”wrote Michael Stumo, CEO of the Coalition for a Prosperity America.
Columnist Patrick J. Buchanan asked, “Can’t we now conclude that we made an economic historical mistake when we relied on countries that did not have America’s best interests to rely on the vital necessities of our economic independence?”
Currently, the United States is still running a large trade deficit and President Joe Biden is pushing for some of President Trump’s trade policies, especially tariffs. So far the Biden administration seems to be keeping tariffs on steel and aluminum as well as dropping tariffs on China. Nonetheless, there is growing pressure between the two political parties to not only end tariffs, but also join the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, which President Trump barred from joining the nation.
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Critics of President Trump’s trade policy argue that it not only punishes America, but that he started a trade war. Proponents of globalization and free trade fail to realize that China and other countries are already taking advantage of the United States. Whether it’s currency manipulation, flooding the market for cheap goods, or their state-subsidized industrial system, China has taken advantage of the United States. In addition, China is actively pursuing the politics of power, chasing the Sabers and building up its military. China is acting as an influential power.
“Over the past three decades, American international trade has failed miserably,” the ambassador wrote in The Economist The Economist. Alexander Historically, the Republican Party, with its Alexander Hamilton roots, saw tariffs as a policy tool to protect America’s home-market and protect workers. President Trump is right about trade, and it will take time to balance trade, but in the end it will strengthen our economy and create a strong middle class.
John Hendrickson is policy director at the Tax Education Foundation of Iowa.
Syndicated with permission from Center Square.